MIAMI — Aircalin has signed today a Memorandum of Understanding for two Airbus A320neo and two A330neo aircraft.

The A320s will be deployed on Aircalin’s existing regional routes to the neighboring islands, New Zealand and Australia. The A330neos, both -900s, are expected to boost services to Japan for onward connections, and an eventual opening of new routes to China.

“As part of our plan to boost tourism to New Caledonia, Aircalin has made a strategic decision to renew its complete fleet with the A320neo and the A330neo to grow routes and connect New Caledonia to the region,” Didier Tappero, Aircalin CEO, said in a statement.

The Noumea-based carrier has two A320-200s, two A330-200s and two de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter. The carroer serves a total of 11 destinations in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Japan, Tahiti, Vanuatu, and the Wallis & Fatuna Islands.

Launched at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow, the A330neo is an upgrade to the current A330-200/-300 aircraft (A330ceo) in production, which traces its origins to the A300 introduced four decades ago.

Given the popularity of the A330ceo with over 1,600 aircraft ordered, Airbus launched an updated version, which includes a new (and sole) engine option —the Rolls Royce Trent 7000—, a longer wingspan and new engine pylons and winglets, in which the use of composites play a key role to meet the expectations of the manufacturer in extending the range of this airliner in more than 400 nautical miles, and fuel savings in 14% per seat compared to the A330ceo.

The A330neo will also launch the novel ‘Airspace by Airbus’ cabin, which features larger overhead storage bins, wider seats (18 inches in economy class) and aisles, besides an unobstructed under-seat foot space.

The Airbus Airspace cabin concept depicting the A330neo passenger cabin. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S.)
The Airbus Airspace cabin concept depicting the A330neo passenger cabin. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S.)

With today’s order announcement 11 customers have ordered a total of 188 A330neos. AirAsia X leads the list with 66 aircraft on order, followed by Delta Air Lines, which placed an order for 25 A330-900neos in November 2014. Hawaiian Airlines opted to swap its A350-800 order for six A330-800neos.

Last April, TAP Portugal became the launch customer for the A330-900, with 14 aircraft on order. Also, Garuda Indonesia confirmed a firm order for 14 A330-900s, upgrading an existing order for seven A330-300s.